Fighting for Women's Rights
Fri., Dec. 6, 2002
Along with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Oregon Health & Science University, last year the NWLC released Making the Grade on Women's Health, a national and state-by-state report card that evaluates both women's health status and the policies and programs that impact women's health. On the bright side, the chunky report shows that Texas fares well nationwide in infant mortality (ninth lowest), smoking (sixth lowest), and wage gaps with men (ninth lowest). The state also has enacted some positive state policies, such as requiring private insurance coverage for mammograms and bone-density screenings for high-risk patients and recent expansion of Medicaid to include breast and cervical cancer treatment.
But as you might expect, the Lone Star State trails the nation in many other categories: 49th in women with health insurance, 48th in Pap smears, 47th in mammograms, 42nd in poverty ... you get the bleak picture. Despite the state's all-GOP, all-the-time landscape, Morrison says Texans concerned about women's health shouldn't surrender. One issue that might be amenable to legislative improvement, she says, is emergency contraception -- the morning-after pill. Pro-lifers and Catholic health organizations (including Seton, which runs Brackenridge Hospital) have deemed emergency contraception an abortifacient, though other medical experts dispute this. Framing the issue is key, she said; denial of EC not only denies women their reproductive rights but patients access to adequate health care. Morrison points to a law in Washington state that requires hospitals to give rape survivors EC on site -- without exempting religious hospitals -- as the current gold standard.
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